2011 Jacob (Co) van Ekeren Aug by Susan

"Co" Jacob van Ekeren

by Susan Pinsky & David Starkman

12 Feb 1047 - 7 Mar 2012 (65 years)

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2007 Co van Ekeren with Jon Golden at National Stereoscopic Association Boise ID Trade Show
in July by Susan Pinsky 
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The first products of Co van Ekeren's that we became aware of were his twin 35mm viewers. The increased use of twinned 35mm cameras, or twin cameras on bars, meant that more and more stereo photographers were taking full-frame 35mm size images (2 x(24mm x 36mm)), rather than Stereo Realist format (24mm x 22mm pairs on a single 41mm x 101mm mount). As no commercial stereo cameras had been made in this full-frame format, there were no commercially made viewers for this format. Hugo de Wijs, another remarkably inventive, ingenious Dutchman, was custom making extremely high quality twin 35mm stereo viewers with stainless steel bodies and optional battery powered light sources. However, they were very professional level and much more expensive, due to the cost of lenses, stainless steel bodies, labor and exceptional quality.

Co came up with a different strategy. Using low cost, but very good quality, loupes from Russia, he married them to viewer bodies he made from plastic materials such as Plexiglas or Perspex.


As the demand grew, Jon Golden began importing and selling Co's viewers in the USA through his company 3D Concepts. Co was constantly improving his product. Adding an optional battery powered light source was one example. Then he created ingenious motorized stereo slide viewers based on a drum shaped body. Inside was an interchangeable slide holding drum. He made both twin 35mm drums that held 12 stereo pairs, as well as Stereo Realist-format drums that held 15 stereo slides. Either drum will work in the same viewer. Later he made numerous variations of this viewer, with smaller drums, and panel versions designed to mount into a flat wall for use in museum installations.

To aid in stereo slide mounting, Co designed and made a device called the SAM (Stereo Active Mounter). This allowed for stereo viewing of a slide pair while in the mount during the mounting process. 

One of the last stereo slide items that Co produced was a low cost, hold-up-to-the-light, viewer called the "Channel Viewer". He explained to us that the body of this viewer was from a plastic channel material used in supporting non-load bearing walls in construction in Holland. Cut to the correct length he added side panels, a diffuser back, and good quality achromatic lenses. He made both twin 35mm and Stereo Realist-format models, and they filled a missing niche in the viewer market at the time.

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Co van Ekeren viewer A1 by Jon Golden
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Co van Ekeren viewer C by Jon Golden
2011 Co van Ekeren working at his own workshop under the stairs in Ijsselstein, The Netherlands after the International Stereoscopic Union congress in Egmond aan Zee by Susan Pinsky 
2011 Co van Ekeren's home in The Netherl
2011 Co van Ekeren's workshop in his home in The Netherlands Aug by David Starkman_01
2011 Co van Ekeren's home in The Netherl
2011 Co van Ekeren's home in The Netherl
2011 Susan Pinsky in Co van Ekeren's workshop in his home in The Netherlands Aug
by David Starkman
2011 Co van Ekeren's workshop in his home in The Netherlands Aug by David Starkman
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2001 NSA Buffalo NY July viewers made by
2011 Co van Ekeren's home in The Netherl
2011 Co van Ekeren in his workshop in his home with David Starkman in The Netherlands Aug
by Susan Pinsky
2011 Co van Ekeren's home in The Netherl
2011 Co van Ekeren's workshop in his home in The Netherlands Aug by David Starkman_01
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2011 Co van Ekeren's in his home next to his camera collection in The Netherlands Aug by Susan Pinsky
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Co van Ekeren's SAM mounting jig by Jon Golden
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Co van Ekeren's SAM light table by Jon Golden
2011 Co van Ekeren's home in The Netherl
2011 Co van Ekeren and David Starkman in his workshop at home in The Netherlands Aug
by Susan Pinsky_
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Co van Ekeren rotary viewers by Ron Labbe
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Co van Ekeren rotary viewer with little girl by Jon Golden - Colorized
2011 Co van Ekeren's home in The Netherl
2011 Co van Ekeren's home in The Netherlands Aug by David Starkman
ISU Egmond aan Zee Trade Show Co van Eck
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2011 International Stereoscopic Union congress in Egmond aan Zee, The Netherlands Trade Show
with Co van Eckeren and Ron Labbe by David Starkman
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2011 Co van Ekeren's home in The Netherl
2011 Co van Ekeren's home in The Netherlands Aug by David Starkman
2007 David Starkman, Co van Ekeren and Wim van Slooten at Susan and David's house
after Boise ID NSA by Susan Pinsky
2003 Co van Ekeren in Besancon France IS
2003 Co van Ekeren in Besancon France International Stereoscopic Union congress at upstairs
Trade Table by Susan Pinsky
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Co van Ekeren twin 35mm slide viewer by Jon Golden
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Now I get to Co's greatest impact, both on us, and the stereo world in general. Digital 3-D Photography.

In 1997 Susan bought our first digital camera (2-D). It had NO megapixels, built-in memory (no memory cards), and a tiny display. We did a couple of slide-bar 3-D photos with it, but there was no easy way to view them (other than making stereo card prints), and it was mainly for 2D snapshooting. We tried putting two identical digital cameras on a bar and using a two-hand/two-finger method for firing both cameras. Our synch rate was "almost never". I decided that I would stick to 3-D slide photography exclusively, and leave the digital snapshooting to Susan. Until someone could figure out a way to synch two digital cameras I was not interested in digital 3-D photography.

That situation changed around 2003, at a NSA (National Stereoscopic Association) convention. There we saw one of the first twin digital camera rigs that Co produced, being demonstrated by Jaap Boon of the Amazing Card company. Co could not come, so he sent Jaap with his demonstration model.

I did some synch tests where I had Jaap take photos of me while I was rapidly moving my hands in front of my face. I freeviewed the results and the synch seemed perfect! Based on that I ordered the next model, to be made from two 4 megapixel Sony P43s. Co's cameras made it as easy to shoot digital 3-D as shooting digital 2-D!

I was not alone. A lot of people got started in digital 3-D with Co's twin P43 Sony cameras. New models followed rapidly as camera models were introduced and replaced. The P43 model was replaced by the Sony P100, then the P150, and then the P200.

The P200's had seven megapixels and optical zoom. When these came out in 2005, I was still very happy with the P43 cameras, but Susan convinced me to upgrade, because of the zoom and greater megapixel count, which allows for more cropping without losing too much resolution. Susan ordered a pair of P200's for herself, and Co made her a special pair with red bodies (rather than silver or black). We are still happy with the quality of the Sony P200 cameras, and it is still our main 3-D cameras - with the Fuji W3 as a backup.

When the P200 model was discontinued, Co had to change models again. He told me that finding a body to use for stereo was not so easy. He had to buy models and wire them together to see if they held good synch. Not all cameras do, apparently. So the Sony's were followed by the Panasonic Lumix, and then many others over the years. His latest model would have been his greatest model to date, based on the Sony NEX5-N.

When StereoData Maker (SDM) came along we thought this might be the end of Co's camera business, as this allowed a user with a minimum amount of work, and no modification of the cameras, two synch certain Canon camera models (quite a long list of models now).

However, SDM was not so user friendly. It requires software to be loaded on to the memory cards of each of the two cameras, and many possible software settings on each camera.

Co's cameras are wired to turn on and off, zoom, and fire the shutter -- all in synch. It's much more user friendly. Because of this, even with a much higher cost than using SDM, Co continued to make and sell many cameras.

Compared to the production of commercially made cameras, such as the Fujifilm W3, Co's total output may be considered small. However, his impact on the 3-D community has been extremely significant. He was one of the pioneers in the digital 3-D revolution. His loss leaves a great hole in the 3-D marketplace, in the 3-D world, and in our hearts.

Co's loss was a shock to us all, as he had only just turned 65, and he was very active, and in apparent good health at the last ISU Congress in Egmond aan Zee, Holland, in August 2012. In fact, after the Congress we visited Co at his home in Ijsselstein, and spent an entire day with him. To see the source of his one-man cottage industry was a real treat, and he was in great spirits, looking healthy. We are so glad to have had this opportunity. Thank you, Co! You will not be forgotten!

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2007 Co van Ekeren working on camera after National Stereoscopic Association Boise ID convention
 by Susan Pinsky 
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2011 Co van Ekeren and Susan Pinsky in Ijsselstein Aug by David Starkman
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2007 Wim van Slooten, Co van Ekeren and David Starkman after National Stereoscopic Association
Boise ID convention by Susan Pinsky 
2003 Co van Ekeren in Besancon France IS
2003 Hermann Miller talking to Co van Ekeren in Besancon France ISU by Susan Pinsky
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Co van Ekeren twin 35mm slide viewer B by Jon Golden
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2001 NSA Buffalo NY July by Susan Pinsky
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2007 Co van Ekeren, David Starkman and Wim van Slooten visiting Susan and David after
National Stereoscopic Association Boise ID convention by Susan Pinsky 
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Copied from website of: www.drt3d.com
(may, or may not, still be available) (also check eBay)
2007 Jon Golden with Co van Ekeren at National Stereoscopic Association Boise ID Trade Show
in July by Susan Pinsky 
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2007 Co van Ekeren and Jon Golden at National Stereoscopic Association Boise ID Trade Show
in July by Susan Pinsky 
2003 Co van Ekeren in Besancon France IS
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2003 Co van Ekeren in Besancon France ISU and Hermann Miller looking by Susan Pinsky
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2011 International Stereoscopic Union congress Egmond aan Zee Co van Eckeren at dinner 
by David Starkman
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2007 Wim van Slooten, Co van Ekeren and David Starkman after National Stereoscopic Association Boise ID convention by Susan Pinsky 
2007 NSA Boise ID July by David Starkman
2007 Jon Golden with Co van Ekeren at National Stereoscopic Association Boise ID Trade Show
in July by Susan Pinsky 
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2011 Co van Ekeren's home in The Netherl
2011 Co van Ekeren's home in his workshop in The Netherlands Aug by Susan Pinsky
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2011 Co van Ekeren's home in The Netherlands Aug by David Starkman
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2007 Co van Ekeren and David Starkman after National Stereoscopic Association Boise ID convention
 by Susan Pinsky 
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2007 Co van Ekeren, Alexander Klein and David Starkman after National Stereoscopic Association
Boise ID convention by Susan Pinsky 
2008 NSA Grand Rapids MI July by David S
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2008 National Stereoscopic Association convention in Grand Rapids MI July by David Starkman -
Co van Ekeren changed the world, and made it better for many.
THE END
Please Note - all photos will enlarge bo
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